Last week, I was asked to interview my counterpart in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Sarah Swenson is one of the newcomers to the HABIT Team and has been with us for about one year. She primarily works as a psychometrist in Dr. Shandera’s clinic.
Miranda Morris: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sarah Swenson: I think I wanted to be a Muppet, probably Miss Piggy as she always seemed to know exactly how to respond to any situation and always stood up for her friends. I wanted to own a catamaran and sail anywhere in the world that took my fancy (though probably to the Greek Islands) although I had no plan as to what job I would do to ever afford this! I also reallywanted to live somewhere that was more seasonal; well movingto Wisconsin has certainly taught me to be careful about what I wish for!
MM: What is your favorite thing about the HABIT Program?
SS: I love meeting all the participants of Habit, getting to know them and their stories. In my day to day job, I am a Psychometrist so I have a very narrow field of contact with patients, I help them through all the testing and then I file a report; but with HABIT I get to see the effect of all this research, I get to see the difference we make to people’s lives by participating in this program.
MM: How did you start working in psychometry?
SS: I got into psychometry whilst studying for my degree in the UK. I wanted to become a psychologist and to get on the Masters course I needed to have ten years of experience as an Assistant Neuropsychologist and to work on at least two published scientific papers. I really enjoyed the psychometry element to my training and this became what I wanted to pursue.
MM: Tell me a little about your family.
SS: we have a blended family which means we have three older kids and two toddlers. Seth is 20 and is at U of M where he plays Quidditch. Haley is 19 and is at University of Wisconsin and loves to paint. Next is James who is 16 and in high school. He enjoys tinkering with cars. We also have two toddlers: Fin who is 3 and loves jumping and counting to 20 and Felicity who is 15 months old and loves eating and digging in the dirt.
MM: Some of the healthy habits that we talk about in the program include eating well, emotional self-care and getting quality sleep. With such a busy work life and a family, how do you make sure to practice the habits of wellness?
SS: Sleep is not always easy with two toddlers, but I set up a “bedtime” on my phone which reminds me when I should start winding down for the night and also blocks any apps that I don’t need so that I don’t become tempted to fall into endless Google searches. I set my alarm for 5 every morning ( I don’t quite leap out of bed yet, but I’m working on it) so that I can get 30minutes of exercise in before the rest of the household wakes up. I usually do yoga unless I’m feeling particularly energetic. I generally eat well as I enjoy cooking but I try to make sure that, when I am at work, I have soup or salad at least three times a week.
MM: What do you usually use the “Notes” section of your calendar for?
SS: Before I go to bed I like to make a note about something which happened that day that made me smile or laugh or perhaps something that I am grateful for. The great thing is once you start looking for these things to write down you begin to realize just how many little things happen in your day that make you happy.
MM: Where did you grow up?
SS: I grew up in England, in a small village not far from the cathedral city of Lichfield. I moved to America about five years ago to be with my husband.
MM: Do you have a hidden talent:
SS: Well I can’t sing for toffee so you wouldn’t want me in the Karaoke bar, but I will always be the center of the party whatever is going on. I also make legendary Mojitos and a pretty mean Jambalaya.